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How To Seal & Stain A Wood Deck

Everyone loves a good backyard barbecue. Grilling meat and veggies, spending time with family and friends, and enjoying the great outdoors. But, a poorly maintained deck can quickly turn your barbecue into a splintered, painful mess. If you’ve owned your home for a few years, or just moved into an older home, you may find that the decking around your house is in need of some work. The wood looks dry and cracked. The finish is discolored and chipped. Time for your next project: Sealing & Staining The Deck

Preparing The Deck For Seal & Stain

This process should start with taking care of any protruding nails coming up from boards. Nails can protrude over time because as the deck gets wet and dries, the wood pushes the nail out. Hammer the nails flush with decking using a hammer and drift pen. Using the drift pen (also called a punch) will help avoid any denting of the boards.

After you take care of the nails, you need to remove old stain from the deck. This process is made much easier with the use of a power washer. If you’ve got a power washer you’ll want to use a wide, flat tip to evenly remove the old stain. Make sure you keep the power washer wand continually moving and avoid getting closer than 6” to the boards. This will keep you from damaging the decking and leaving marks. If you don’t have a power washer, one can be rented.

If your deck has mildew, dirt, or fungus you may want to consider using a wood cleaning product after power washing. Some wood cleaners also brighten the wood, bringing some life back to your decking. Before using wood cleaner, water down any grass or shrubs surrounding the deck. This dilutes any wood cleaner over-spray that may get on grass during application. Use a spray container to distribute cleaner and then go back over deck with a synthetic brush. The brush ensures wood cleaner finds it way into cracks and crevices along the boards. Allow the cleaner to sit for 10-15 minutes then rinse off with a hose or power washer.

One final, optional step you can take is to take 80 grit sandpaper and sand down any stubborn stains or jagged edges along handrails. You can use a hand sander or regular sandpaper. This helps keep handrails smooth to the touch.

Sealing & Staining A Deck

I recommend purchasing a wood seal and stain combo. Not only does this save time, but it ensures the two products work well together. Some seal/stain products can be applied to wood that is damp. This allows you to clean and seal your deck on the same day.

Pour your seal/stain into a painter’s tray and grab a thin, wide paint brush. Use the brush to seal the sides of your decking boards before using a sponge applicator to seal the top of your decking boards. Don’t submerge your sponge directly into the seal/stain. Lightly dip into the surface of the seal/stain and even out distribution by running sponge along the paint tray ribs. Always move your sponge in the direction of the wood grain. When you seal vertical surfaces start from the bottom and work your way up. The seal/stain will be thinner than paint and this can cause it to run or drip when starting from the top.

Now that you’ve sealed and stain the deck, it’s time to let it dry and set up. This is usually 4-6 hours, but can vary depending on brand and product type. Always consult the product label for instructions. If you’re short on time, or don’t want to take this project on, I can help. With years of experience, I can make your deck ready for the next big barbecue. Just fill out my job cost estimate form below to get started.

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